Defending champions Czech Republic exit Fed Cup in first round; Slavia extend lead as soccer top flight resumes; Sáblíková takes yet more gold medals at speed skating worlds; and Smutná is best of domestic competitors in Jizerská padesátka with second.
Title-holders the Czech Republic were knocked out in the first round of the Fed Cup in Ostrava at the weekend. The Czechs lost 2:3 on matches to Romania after Barbora Krejčíková and Kateřina Siniaková were beaten in the decisive doubles rubber by Irina-Camelia Begu and Monica Niculescu on Sunday evening.
It was the first outing in national colours for Krejčíková, who is 23.
“I think, given that it was my first match, I gave my absolute all. I was hoping we’d win and that I’d have more reason to celebrate… But definitely if the captain wishes to pick me for the national team again I’ll look forward to it very much.”
It was the first time the Czech Republic, who won the Fed Cup six times in the last eight years, were knocked out in the first round since 2008.
Czech football’s top division returned to action at the weekend after its annual winter break. Slavia Prague had gone into the interval with a four-point lead but immediately widened the gap to six points in the first round of the spring half of the season.
While their nearest rivals Viktoria Plzeň drew 1:1 at Mladá Boleslav, Slavia overcame Teplice 2:0 in the capital, with both goals coming in the final 10 minutes.
The first of them was a Panenka-style spot kick from Tomáš Souček.
“I said to myself that it was my first penalty in the league and that the goalkeeper didn’t know me and would dive. Luckily he did. I was thinking, What if he stays standing? But it worked out.”
Slavia visit Plzeň in the next round and the hosts will need to take all three points if they are to give themselves a realistic chance of taking the title race down to the wire.
The Czech Republic’s Martina Sáblíková now has 19 gold medals from the World Speed Skating Championships, equaling the record of Gunda Nieman-Sitrnemann of Germany. At Inzell in Germany Sáblíková, who is 31, triumphed in both her favoured events, the 5,000 metres and the 3,000 metres.
Kateřina Smutná came second in the Jizerská padesátka, the country’s best-known cross-country skiing event, on Sunday. It was the second time in a row that the Czech skier achieved that result in the 50-kilometre race in north Bohemia, whose women’s category was won by Lina Korsgren of Sweden. The men’s race was won by Andreas Nygaard of Norway, who was also enjoying his first ever victory in the event.